World Trade Organization members’ to help Mauritius
Efforts are in progress to increase trade in services and to address the high unemployment caused partly by the decline in non-preferential access through the creation of more employment opportunities. (Image: World Trade Organisation)
World Trade Organization (WTO) reviewed the 4th edition of Mauritius’ Trade Policy and announced that Mauritius will benefit from other WTO members’ technical assistance to meet its challenges and to align its procedures for developing, implementing standards and technical regulations with international norms.
Held in Geneva between October 22, 2014 to October 24, 2014, this two-day session encouraged discussion on the island’s trade and related policies and practices through inclusive reports by the WTO Secretariat, Government of Mauritius, together with insightful comments by H.E. Gabriel Duque – Ambassador of Columbia- and valuable interventions by members.
In the concluding remarks, the members of the WTO identified Mauritius as a vulnerable small island to unfamiliar shocks including fluctuating international market and climatic conditions.
Also, the members notified that the global economic crisis did not affect Mauritius as it has registered a good GDP growth.
With 72% of GDP and a major factor of exports, the services sector plays an important role in the economy.
Therefore, efforts are in progress to increase trade in services and to address the high unemployment caused partly by the decline in non-preferential access through the creation of more employment opportunities.
Furthermore, development strategies are being put into practice to further encourage long-term growth and improve living standards.
As the island is promoting its regional trade flows and economic development under COMESA, the members required information about progress made so far in ensuring smoother and more effective implementation of this Regional Trade Agreement.
The WTO report outlined that Mauritius is one of the strongest performers in Africa due to its good ranking in various international indicators relating to governance, competitiveness and the business environment.
Consequently, efforts to improve the environment for trade and investment have included: measures to fast-track the processing of permit approvals for large investment projects and strengthened legal protection to investors.
Concerning the agriculture sector, the report noted that Mauritius’ government has focused on: expanding sugar cane production into refined sugar, electricity and ethanol; restructuring the sugar industry; and boosting both the production and export of other agricultural products through various incentives.
Regarding the electricity sector, the State Trading Corporation imports petroleum products and sells to four oil companies, which distribute to the domestic market.
Thus, a new focus of energy policy is to lessen dependence on imported fossil fuels through the great use of renewable energy and make use of energy resources in a much more efficient manner.
Members welcomed agricultural, energy and services reforms in Mauritius and they believed that further openness in these sectors should continue, with a view to attracting more investment flows.
In a view of diversifying its economies on its ongoing efforts, the members expect Mauritius to facilitate trade and develop its business environments including through the dismantling of its remaining restrictions to investment and through investment in relevant infrastructure
Despite the fact that import and export permit requirements have been reduced over the review period, the import permit system is being used to act as a shield for domestic producers of a few agricultural products; tea, chicken and pork.
In contrast, Mauritius is advised to ensure that its import permit system is not used to protect domestic producers.
Finally, the members made an appeal to the island for its support to the multilateral trading system and the island has been congratulated for having already submitted its trade facilitation category A commitments, according to the remarks.